Happy New Year everyone! As we prepare to enter 2017, a new quadrennium is about to start and with it come multiple changes to the Code of Points and the competition format. The 2017-2020 quad brings some innovation for the sport with radical change in Olympic qualification and a few alterations to the scoring itself. This may all seem a bit complicated at first so let’s break everything down and try to figure out what’s new.
To make things a bit easier, let’s break this into two different parts. First we’ll look at the changes in the Code of Points. The most noticeable change is the removal of the D+ dismount requirement on bars, beam and floor and consequently the corresponding 0.5 bonus. With this change, the maximum bonus for composition requirements is two full points instead of the previous 2.5 so expect most D-scores to drop about half a point in the next few years. The D+ dismount removal will be quite helpful for smaller countries that struggle to upgrade C dismounts and can now keep those skills they’re more comfortable with without the extra penalty of losing 0.2 in bonus. For those who manage higher valued skills, this rule won’t impact them that much as they will continue to count those skills towards their final D-score just like they did before.
To accommodate this decrease in D-score and maintain the balance between all four apparatus, vault start values will also be reduced by about 0.3 to 0.6, keeping scores relatively similar across events without further increasing the already high scores coming from vault. To help you get used to these new start values, below is a list of the new and old values of the most common vaults in current women’s gymnastics.
|Front tuck half||4.8||4.4|
|Front pike half||5.0||4.6|
|Front layout half||5.4||5.0|
|Front layout full||5.8||5.4|
Aside from this decrease in start value, vault will also be judged more tightly. Twisting too early (before leaving the table) can now reach a deduction of up to 0.3, while blocking with just one hand (ala MyKayla Skinner) will make you lose two full points from your E-score. On the difficulty side, the Produnova vault will no longer be recognized as such if landed with feet and butt simultaneously, but will be downgraded to a simple front tuck losing over two points in D-score. Hopefully this new rule will keep people from performing this vault before it is ready for competition and will ultimately make the sport safer.
On uneven bars, changes will be minimal in this new code, with connections remaining the same and most skills keeping their value. However, one of the most significant modifications is the deduction for performing a kip after a Shaposhnikova transition, which is now considered an empty swing and incurs in a 0.5 deduction. This will surely affect many gymnasts who will now be forced to connect this transition immediately into another skill or change the composition of their routine to remove this element from their exercise. Regarding the value of each skill, transitions from low to high bar in counter movement forward (facing the high bar) have been downgraded to a B, favoring the more difficult Shaposhnikova transitions which are a D or even an E. On the contrary, some releases have seen their start value raised such as the layout Gienger which is now an E, the piked jaeger also an E, and the layout jaeger now an F. As for dismounts, only the double front half has been altered, with its tucked version worth now an E and the piked worth an F.
On beam, as well as on floor, the number of elements counted towards the final D-score has also suffered alterations with a minimum of 3 acrobatic elements joining the already established minimum of 3 dance elements. For some people, this appears as a reaction to the Dutch floor routines containing just two tumbling passes and will most likely result in a minimum of three tumbling passes to bring the difficulty score to competitive levels (unless you’re Ellie Black and can perform two high level acro skills in one tumbling run and get it done all at once). Beam connections will also suffer some change with no more crediting non-rebounding acro connections, such as the famous front aerial to front aerial. By opposition, mount and dismount can now be included in connections and receive connection value as any other skill of the routine, with a minimum of F value for the dismount skill to get connection bonus. Furthermore, the 0.1 series bonus has been extended to dance and mixed series and now covers every series of three elements starting with B + B + C, wether it be mount, dismount, acro skills or dance elements and also includes non-rebounding connections. The D (acro) + A (dance) connection has been removed and divided into two different connections: B + D mixed connection and D (salto) + A (scale) which already existed in the previous code but was scarcely used.
In terms of skills, the split leap and jump are now worth a B and consequently the split jump half is a C and the split jump full a D, with identical changes made to the straddle jump. Also, jumps and leaps will only be differentiated when they have a minimum of a 180º difference, meaning a Johnson leap and a switch leap are considered the same elements and will only be counted once. To compensate for this, the Johnson half is now an E, while the switch half remains a D. Additionally, the sheep jump will be downgraded to a C, which together with the tighter judging on this skill, will probably lead to more and more gymnasts opting to switch this element for a more reliable one. The 2.5 wolf turn will also be downgraded to a D, leaving only the triple turn under the E value. Answering the age old question surrounding the credit of a a front tuck half as a Grigoras or a simpler Barani, all front saltos with half twist will be credited with an F and the timing of the twist won’t be a factor anymore. Finally, on the dismounts, the popular Gainer layout of this past quad will now be only a C and a Gainer full (Steingruber) will be a D. This dismount was frequently used by gymnasts to fill the D+ dismount requirement with a relatively easier quite but since this requirement is now gone, this downgrade won’t have as much of an impact as before and some might elect to keep the dismount if they score well enough with it.
Finally, on floor, the minimum of 3 acrobatic elements rule also applies and forward tumbling must now be included in an acro line, meaning no more lonely aerials thrown in the middle of some choreo. Just as on beam, some elements that were previously considered different skills are now the same element and only counted once toward D-score, which is the case between the split jump, stag jump, split jump half and sissone, all under the same code number this quad. Similarly, split jump half, full and 1.5 are the same as straddle jump half, full and 1.5, respectively, forcing gymnasts to get creative with their dance elements. In terms of skill value, the butterfly has been downgraded to a B (sorry, Frags), while the stag ring jump has been upped from an A to a B. In the field of acro skills not much as changed with just the double arabian laid-out being upgraded to an H and the whip salto full upgraded to a C (even though no one does these anymore).
As a whole, this code brings some new rules to the table and once again makes gymnasts and coaches rethink their routines in order to increase their potential for great results. The first few years are expected to be kinda iffy with some athletes and countries taking longer to adapt to the new code but as the quad progresses and we get closer and closer to Tokyo, we should see D-scores rising and new trends emerging in routine construction as gymnast prepare for the biggest meet of their careers.